5A(intro)

©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:  11 April 2017

CHART 5A:  GOD IN GRACE CHOSE MOSES TO LEAD THE HEBREW PEOPLE OUT FROM SLAVERY IN EGYPT (“THE EXODUS”) AND TO POSSESS CANAAN (GOD’S “PROMISED LAND”).  AT MOUNT SINAI GOD MADE HIS COVENANT WITH THEM AS HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE (THE ISRAELITES) AND NATION (ISRAEL)

[Exodus,  Leviticus,  Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Psalm 90]

Introduction

5A(intro)1    The contents of the OT books listed above

Chart 5A is derived from a much larger amount of biblical data than the previous nine charts.  It is based on all of the OT books listed above.   Obviously there will be a lot more summarizing of the biblical material for Era 5 than for the previous Eras. 

This material contains a number of literary types and contents.  The highly significant passages for Chart 5A are extended quoted speeches by God, mostly giving His detailed Covenantal laws for the Israelites.  Some narratives and poems also describe manifestations of God, His acts and responses to people.  

5A(intro)2    Charts 1A to 4B:  A summary of the information about God and the history so far

The previous nine charts are based on a detailed analysis of the the first four Eras as recorded in the Books of Genesis and Job.  All the information about God and the history for those Eras has been summarized in the Introductions to Charts 2A through to 4B.

Era 4 ended with Jacob (Israel) and his family living in Egypt after they had migrated there to escape a seven year drought in Canaan Gen 47:11,12.  In Egypt these “Israelites” Gen 32:32a,  36:31b,  47:27a,  Ex 1:12b became known as “Hebrews” Gen 39:14,17,  Ex 1:15-16,19,  2:11,13 (although Abraham had been referred to previously as a “Hebrew” Gen 14:13).  They were also known simply as “Israel” Gen 49:7b,  Ex 3:16a,18a,  4:22,  5:2,  19:3b.

5A(intro)3  The Israelites in Egypt

The Israelites settled permanently in Egypt.  Era 5 begins by “fast-forwarding” the Genesis historical narrative to more than 400 years later!  Ex 1:6,  12:40.   This found the Israelites in a totally different situation.  God’s promise to Abraham of countless descendants [4A8(a)] was being fulfilled.  Instead of being just a family clan of herders numbering 70 people, there may have been over 2 million Israelites spread throughout the nation Ex 1:7.  They had become a slave labour workforce of possibly 600,000 men Ex 12:37b and were being used by the Egyptians on construction of major projects Ex 1:11.  

The ruling Pharaoh at the end of this long period knew nothing about Joseph and how God had used him to deliver Egypt from the seven year drought Ex 1:8.  Instead he saw the Israelites as aliens and ultimately as a threat to national security Ex 1:9-10.  So the Egyptians ruthlessly oppressed them as slaves! Ex 1:14.  Finally the Pharaoh began an attempted genocide by ordering the slaughter of all newborn Hebrew boys!! Ex 1:15-16,22.

When God heard the Israelites’ cries He “remembered His Covenant” with Abraham and responded with compassion Ex 2:23b-24,25,  3:7,9.  He told Moses He was going to rescue them from Egypt and bring them into the land He had promised to Abraham! Ex 3:8.

5A(intro)4    God’s ongoing strategy in a whole new situation

God had sovereignly chosen Abraham and the descendants of his grandson Jacob (Israel) to be His “own people”, the Israelites.   God had made four declarations and five promises to Abraham concerning their future [4A3(c)(i), 4A8(a, b), 4A9].  These Covenantal commitments by God were permanent.  They set His agenda for accomplishing His primary purpose, now to be worked out especially in the ongoing history of the Israelites [4A3(c)(ii, iii, d)].

God’s prophetic declaration to Abraham had been fulfilled Gen 15:13.  He was now going to fulfil His Covenantal promise to bring the Israelites out of Egypt Gen 15:14.

5A(intro)5   Leadership of the Israelites

Humanly speaking, to unite and organize the perhaps two million Israelites was going to require remarkable leadership.  God in grace chose Moses and later his assistant Joshua for this task Ex 3:10-11,12,  Deut 31:3,7,  Josh 1:1,2,5.  Their first challenge was to lead the Israelites in an extraordinary escape from Egypt Ex 6:6 as an accomplishing of God’s primary purpose Ex 6:7.  They were then to continue leading them in their “exodus” journey.  This would first be to Mt Sinai Ex 3:12b and eventually to invade and take possession of Canaan as God had promised them Gen 12:7,  Ex 6:8.

But the greatest challenge for Israel’s leaders would be to develop this vast number of people into a cohesive society and culture, committed to believing God’s Covenantal declarations and promises to Abraham and keeping His Covenant by obeying its requirements Ex 19:5-6.  

5A(intro)6  Three highly significant words about God became prominent

In Eras 1 – 4 the word “holy” was used only once Gen 2:3 and “love” was used briefly but not referring to God Gen 20:13,  22:2,  29:18,20,32 while “glory” was not used at all.  But in Era 5 these became major key words, especially in descriptions of God’s nature [see 5A1, 5A4(a), 5A5, 5A6].

5A(intro)7    Controversial issues

Again a number of controversial questions are raised, such as:-

# Could a bush be on fire yet not be burnt? Ex 3:2-3

# Could Moses and God speak directly and so extensively to each other? [God’s quoted speech comprises 46% of the verses in Exodus, 88% of Leviticus and 37% of Numbers, almost all addressed to Moses].

# How could Pharaoh be in the wrong if it was God who “hardened his heart”? Ex 4:21,  7:3-4,13-14,22-23,  8:15,19,32,  9:7,12,34-35,  10:1,20,27,  11:9-10,  14:4,8

# How could some plagues affect only the Egyptians and not the Hebrews living in the same land?  Ex 8:3-4,8-13,21-24,29-31,  9:3-7,25-26,  10:4-6,22-23

# Could the exodus have involved an estimated 2 million adults and children, along with their animals, even though the whole first generation of men died?  It included surviving in desert areas for 40 years and fighting several wars Num 32:8-13,  Deut 2:7,24-36,  3:1-7

# What was the pillar of cloud and fire?  Ex 13:21-22,  14:19-20,24,  16:10,  33:9-10,  34:5,  40:34-38,  Num 9:15-23,  11:25,  12:5-10,  14:13-14,  16:42

# How could the Red Sea have parted and piled up each side to let the Israelites cross on dry ground, then return and drown all the Egyptian army that tried to follow them? Ex 14:15-31

# Could water sufficient to supply the needs of all the Israelites have twice come out of a rock when Moses struck it with his staff? Ex 17:5-7,  Num 20:2,6-13

# Could the dramatic events at Mt Sinai and Moses’ survival on the mountain have happened? Ex 19:16-25,  24:1-2,9-18,  32:16,  34:1,  Lev 9:23-24,  10:1-2

# Could the numerous other extraordinary events have occurred throughout the exodus journey and later in Canaan?  For example Ex 16:13-16,  Num 11:1-3,  16:28-35,49,  17:1-8,  20:9-11,  21:6-9,  22:21-33,  25:8-9,  Deut 34:10-12,  Josh 3:7 – 4:18,  6:20,  10:11-14,  Judges 3:31,  6:20-23,36-40,  13:19-20,  14:5-6,  15:4,14-15,  16:29-30.

As previously stated, I recognise that these are by no means insignificant or uninteresting issues.  Responses to some of them are included in these notes.  But I have deliberately avoided letting them become distractions from focusing on what is emphasized by the biblical text itself.

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